Could it be that the same estate planning lawyer who advises owners of privately held businesses about the need for a succession plan as part of their estate plan is the same person who does not have a succession plan of her own? Ironic, we know. But irony won’t help if your estate planning law practice isn’t robust enough to either pass on to an heir or sell. What you need comes in two parts: first, you’ve got to have a thriving practice that retains its value and then you need a succession plan.
We know firsthand that many estate planning law firms are led by boomers who are starting to consider retirement and succession. For some, this is a real challenge, because they truly love what they do, and the idea of handing over the reins is not an easy thing to imagine. For others, who are more focused on the business side, it’s more of a business transaction and less of a lifestyle consideration.
Whichever camp you fall into, you want to have a law practice that is worth selling or passing down. If selling your practice is on your horizon, now is the time to go full speed ahead to ensure that your years of building the practice don’t evaporate into thin air.
If you are doing the bare minimum, now is actually the time to step up your marketing and business development. If you were selling a building, would you let it fall into disrepair before putting it on the market? If you do, don’t expect it to be worth much.
What’s the health and well-being of your marketing list? The most valuable marketing list is the one that you have grown over the years. But if yours is loaded with simple errors (firstname.lastname@example.org, rather than email@example.com, for instance), you have a list of missed opportunities. Ditto if you haven’t bothered keeping it up to date. Email and client information list maintenance is an important marketing task. No, you should not be doing it—but someone in your firm should. If you were using our automated E2 CRM system, this would be already done!
What would happen if you were suddenly incapacitated? You have these conversations with clients all the time, but have you ever given thought to what would happen if the unthinkable happened to you? Do you have a plan in place so that clients will continue to be taken care of, so that your partners know what they need to do to keep the practice going?
On a more pleasant note, what if you just wanted to start the retirement process by picking and choosing the clients you work with, and let other attorneys handle other work?
Bottom line: to have a successful succession plan, you need a profitable estate planning practice.